Any decision-making problem falls on a continuum that ranges from completely structured to unstructured decisions. The structured decisions occur when the decision-making problem can be structured either by the decision maker or on the basis of relevant theory. In this case, the people involved in the problem-solving process are able to identify fully and coherently all elements of the decision situation. Unstructured decisions occur when the people involved in the decision-making process are unable to structure the problem, and the problem cannot be structured on the basis of a relevant theory. They are ill defined, not repeated frequently, or the conditions are significantly different at each repetition so that no general model can be developed. Most real-life spatial decision problems are semistructured. this is the area where the spatial decision support (DSS) concept has major application. The semistructured problems can be solved by decision makers with computer support. This requires an interaction between decision makers and the computer-based system. The structured (programmed) part of the problem may be amenable to automated solution by the use of a computer, while the unstructured (nonprogrammed) aspect s are tackled by decision makers (Hopkins 1984).
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